Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ecclesiasticus Chapters 33 & 34: Would your brother run away?

Chapter 33

No bad things will happen to true believers. Wise men love the law, and trust it, and it loves them back, but it will make hypocrites feel like ships in a storm. Foolish people's minds are like cart wheels.

Stallions are terrible friends that complain whenever you ride them. The very next verse asks why some days are awesome even though all the light comes from the sun? What? Oh, because god made seasons and feasts, and holidays are naturally better than other days, especially when you get to get drunk.

Next we are reminded that men come from dirt and god made them very diverse. He likes some, but not others, because he's a potter, just not a very good one, because he isn't very consistent.

Solomon is not a morning person, but by getting up late, he gleaned the fields after the grape pickers. God liked that for whatever reason, so people bought his wine. He doesn't do this for himself, mind, he wants to help the intellectually curious. Not by giving them clear instructions, of course. So now, even though he just told us a couple of chapters ago to lend people money if they asked for it in the full knowledge that you won't get it back, he now instructs us not to give our stuff away in case we need it again in the future. Also, if you give your stuff to your kids too early, you end up a King Lear.

Now he moves on to the care and feeding of property. See, there are a lot of similarities between donkeys and slaves: both need food, whipping and work. And you really need to work your slave, otherwise he'll start thinking about liberty. If he's disobedient, give him more work. But not excessive work. You did pay for him. And of course you're supposed to explain all of this in terms of brotherhood: you need your slave like you need your brother. Though if your brother runs away, you wouldn't normally seek him with the police.

Chapter 34

Fools take their dreams literally. Unclean things can't be cleansed. No truth can come from falsehood. Divination is stupid. Only receive visitors from god. The law, which in its current form allows men to 'study' on state welfare for 20 years (conveniently, until exactly the age one is considered too old for military service) while their wives have 8 or more children and have to spend a week each month in a separate 'menstruation hut', is perfect. Traveling makes you wise.

Solomon understands better than he speaks. He traveled a lot, and faced death many times. Alas, not before he wrote this book. He didn't die because he's a true believer and god protects true believers.

Don't sacrifice fenced animals. That's fenced as in 'stolen property' not as in 'was behind a fence.' God doesn't like offerings made by wicked people, repeat sinners or those who have fleeced the poor, which is the same as killing a son in front of his father. Even though we've just heard that god made all shades of humanity, including the poor, and one presumes he could make their lives less precarious by say, giving them more money or just not inventing scoundrels.

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